The Wedge Group - December 2018

(214) 446-3209




Let me describe the typical sales meeting to you.

That is the old-world way of holding a sales meeting. It’s a spreadsheet review with little room for anything else.

In selling commercial insurance, it’s about a producer knowing who the incumbent agent is and committing to dominating that person. Do this, and you will be satisfied with the result. Ask this question point blank: “Do you believe this account will be better off with you than the incumbent? If so, tell me why. How are you better than the incumbent?” This is an opportunity for you to help your producer map out their differences in a profound and specific way. It shifts the focus from price and coverage to how they manage the account better than the incumbent. This will make your producer a better agent. It will teach them how to win, not just quote. There is always something the incumbent isn’t doing, no matter how good they are. You’ve got to challenge them and help your producers find it, define it, and leverage it to win. If you don’t challenge your producers this way, they won’t get any better. You’ll be left with producers who have hit their peak. You can’t expect them to grow in that kind of environment. At the end of the day, a strong sales meeting is well-organized and structured to be advantageous to everyone, from the newbie to the long-time producer. It’s a meeting people don’t avoid because it offers value — value for both the producers and you, because your agency will reap the rewards of a strong and focused sales meeting.

You and your team gather in a room and pull up a spreadsheet on the projector, or you pass out a few printed handouts with names and numbers and a few other details. As an agency owner, you want to know how your producers are doing. How are they progressing with their prospects? Do they need any help? The spreadsheet tells you only so much, so you ask one of your producers, “What are the chances of winning this?” The producer answers, “At least 50-50.”

The New World sales meeting is tougher, gritty, and more real; it’s a place for producers to grow.

It starts with this premise: A producer should be able to define and defend how they are better than the incumbent agent that now controls the account. They become crystal clear on why a prospect needs them and exactly which competitive advantage will help them win the account. When you shift the focus of the meeting from coverage gaps and underwriter relationships to how you are better than the incumbent agent, the learning effect starts to skyrocket. The easy answers go out the window. Now a producer is faced with the raw truth: “Am I better than the incumbent? If so, what do I do that they aren’t doing? How do I do it better?” As you coach your producer through this thought process, they become better at articulating their differences. If you don’t, they stay in the same rut they’ve been in for many years. This will give your producer the tools he or she needs to close more sales. You will help them develop their sales confidence to entirely new levels. Nick Saban, the coach at University of Alabama, says this: “The scoreboard has nothing to do with the process. Each possession you look across at the opponent and commit yourself to dominate that person. It’s about individuals dominating the individuals they’re playing against. If you can do this … if you can focus on the one possession and wipe out the distractions … then you will be satisfied with the result.”

You ask, “What’s your strategy?”

“I’m building the relationship. I found a few coverage gaps. And I’ve got a few underwriters that I think will give me a good quote.”

“You need any help?”

“No, I think I’ve got it handled.”

Then, you move on.

What have you learned?

The answer, of course, is not much.

More importantly, what have you done as a leader to help develop your producer’s ability to win the account, not just quote it? The problem— or one of the problems —with this type of meeting is that there is no sales process. There is no strategy, and the producer hasn’t been challenged. Everyone leaves the meeting no better off than they were when it started.

Call me if you would like to learn how to run better sales meetings at (214) 446-3209.

– Randy Schwantz

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